Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Crescent City Connection

The bridge get's all weird and cool and silhouette-y late in the afternoon, with all those big lattice-y girders and stuff. I like it.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Willow and Evening Sky

Apparently my current photographic strategy is to point my camera up around sunset and snap a pic of whatever's overhead. Oh well, it's working for me.

From Farmer to Hipster in Four Easy Steps!

So Matt challenged me to transform our old farmer into a young hipster with as few changes as possible. I have picked up his gauntlet, and here is the result:

Of course, the essential profile and features remain the same. And the hat. (I suspect the hat was what prompted Matt's challenge. Hat's are one of the foremost areas of of fashion-overlap between old men and young hipsters.) What changed?
  1. Well, I had to take him back a few decades, so I wiped out all the age lines. (Digital botox.)
  2. I gave him a pair of hipster specs (modeled on my own, I confess). Actually, these could just as easily have been worn by our old farmer too. Hipster-hornrims are definitely another old-is-new phenomenon.
  3. I swapped out the stalk of grass for a cigarette. (Grass-chawin' has yet to gain favor with today's youth.)
  4. And I traded in his overalls for a plaid shirt — with a bit of some carefully chosen t-shirt peeking through.1
Not a lot of changes, but definitely a hipster, definitely not a farmer. I'll call that success.

1 Overalls have had their revivals too, though usually dramatically transformed from the standard farmer variety. In the 80s, lots of the guys around where I lived wore those acid-washed overall-shorts, typically with one shoulder strap unbuckled. And as I recall, various sorts of high-waisted pleated/acid-washed jumper/overall sorts of things were popular with the gals (and are once again, with the current wave of 80s retro-chic).

Sunday, July 29, 2012

My Afternoon Coffee: Pink Polka Dots

I confess, I would never have chosen to drink from this cup but for the sake of the series. Though we've established that I'm not particularly bound by gender-typed aesthetics, pink polka dots just aren't my thing. But over the years, during our many dinner parties, it's been a popular choice with the ladies. And I don't deny it has its charm. Hey, the chicks dig it. Maybe you will too.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

My Morning Coffee: Blue with Fleur de Lis

We've seen the the fleurs-de-lis backed by green. Now the same with blue. Man, that's a great blue. I dig it. (And hey, football season approaches. Perhaps a bit of Saints pride coming into the mix. Despite their recent woes, we still love 'em.)

Friday, July 27, 2012

Photo by Lulu: Spiky Liriope

Garden of Delights: It took me a while to remember what this plant is called, even though I just got it a few weeks ago. (Though I've become an avid gardener, I'm still terrible at remembering the names of plants, so people will ask me, "Oh, what's that?" to which I must lamely respond, "Uh... I forget.") This post was originally titled "... Spiky Whatchyamacallit". But I had that tip-of-the-tongue thing: L.. L... Something with an L. I briefly settled on Lariam, but Google revealed that that's actually an anti-malarial medicine. And then at last I remembered, Lariope! Though Google then corrected me and informed me that it's actually spelled Liriope. Whatever. It looks cool.

Jeeves, June-ior1

June can oscillate (rapidly) between infuriatingly stubborn and remarkably sweet. The other morning, in a fit of (silly) generosity, she was helping dress her sister — putting her socks on, etc.

I should mention, I live in a house of ridiculously Anglophilic gals. With Sarah leading the way, they have all absorbed massive quantities of movies/books/TV shows/etc. centered around British life (real or comical or fantastical): from Harry Potter to Agatha Christie to P.G Wodehouse to Sherlock Holmes to Jane Austen — and pretty much any and every "manor drama" out there, any sorts of thing set in the 19th or early 20th century England with lots of large country houses and effete aristocrats and bustling servants and such.

And so, as Louise was being adorned, she started referring to June as Jeeves. And reciprocally, June started referring to Louise as Wooster.2 Ridiculous.

1 We're getting a little Jr. theme going here, aren't we?

2 If you're not catching the names, they're specifically referring to the ridiculously awesome TV show, Jeeves and Wooster, starring Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie (yeah, the guy from House), which was based on the ridiculously awesome series of stories by the aforementoned P.G. Wodehouse.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Fine Sign: "Creative Floral Design School of New Orleans"

To quibble, the school isn't actually in New Orleans; it's in Gretna, an adjacent little townlet on the West Bank, but it's a helluva sign, so we'll let it slide.

From the Doodle-Ma-Tron: Mr. Farmer Guy

I'm going to go ahead and say he's a farmer. Notice how I clued in on those overalls? And the piece of grass he's chawing on? Farmer. Though I'm wondering about the hat. It looks a little fancy. That might be his going-to-town hat. Or maybe it used to be his going-to-town hat until it got too old and battered, and now it's just his regular farmer hat. Hmm...

Tangential musing (my specialty): When did that piece-of-grass-in-mouth become so emblematic of farmer-ness (or more generally, country bumpkin-ness)? Sure it happens. I've done it myself in my own rural youth (though it's possible I was merely emulating this archetypal image). But when did it become such a trope? (Am I using "trope" right? It's making me nervous.) When did it transition from actual phenomenon into shorthand signifier? Hmm...

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Katniss, Jr.

So one of Louise's main birthday gifts was a bow. (The "Lil Banshee" — love that name.) It's kid-sized, but it's the real deal, a compound bow, basically a smaller version of the sort that my Virginian hard-core hunter uncle used. (Don't worry; I lectured her endlessly on proper safety protocols, the same sort of lectures I received as a kid when learning to shoot guns.)

You might wonder why an eleven-year-old city girl wants a bow, but if so, then you probably haven't read or seen The Hunger Games, whose protagonist, Katniss, is a bad-ass young gal with some serious archery chops. The books made a big impression on Louise and spawned her new interest in archery. She's not alone. Her friend came over this past weekend for a play date — is it still called a "play date" with eleven-year-olds? — and brought her own longbow. The two young ladies spent hours in the back yard, honing their skills. 

(Personally, I fully support her interest. When the imminent zombie apocalypse arrives, she's going to save our butts. Everyone else in New Orleans will be blasting away at the undead with pistols and assault rifles, but of course noise attracts zombies. So as gunfire draws the creatures into Central City — the adjacent neighborhood with a probably unparalleled arsenal of illicit weapons — we'll sneak out the other way, with Louise on point, silently taking out any zombie threats.)

Look at that face. The girl ain't messing around. (I love that she's in hard-core target-focus mode while wearing a sun dress.)

She practices every day, gradually shooting from farther back and grouping her shots tighter together. (Originally we had a proper target with the different colors and numbers and such, but that was quickly tattered to shreds, so now we've settled for an impromptu target drawn onto the styrofoam backing.)

I made her this quiver from a poster tube and a roll of camouflage duct tape. Looks pretty legit, right? I'm quite proud of it. Man-craft! (You'll note the thematically appropriate mockingjay pin on the strap, another Hunger Games-inspired birthday present, this one from her Grandpa Tom.)

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Still More Utility Lines and Clouds

Apparently I just can't stop snapping photos of utility lines at sunset. Ob la di...

"...In Bear Meeting"

I like a clever turn of phrase in a lyric. There's a nice little nugget in Johnny Guitar Watson's song, "The Bear" (that link leads to a curious little YouTube mashup), that's always caught my attention. The song recounts a hunting misadventure that results in Johnny being pursued by an angry bear. (That was a whole subgenre for a while, the frantically-running-away-from-trouble song). In a moment of semi-blasphemous desperation, he declares:
Well now, prayer's alright in prayer meeting,
But prayer ain't good, Lord, in bear meeting!
Well said, Johnny, well said.Rhyming "prayer meeting" with "bear meeting"? Fantastique!

1 Perhaps there are no atheists in foxholes, but while desperately fleeing from a large mammal, I suspect most theological concerns do indeed fall by the wayside.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Photo by June: "Speed Limit 25"

I've got photo-fetishes for signs, wires, and clouds. And apparently June does too. Or perhaps it's just my curatorial prejudices. Nature, nurture, curation — dunno. Regardless, I like the shot.

From the Doodle-Ma-Tron: Guy with Curly Hair, Black Glasses, and Striped Shirt

Hmm, I wonder what he's about. I wonder what his job is. I wonder what's in his record collection. I wonder what his hair looked like in the 70s. So many questions.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

My Morning Coffee:1 Flower Cup

Most of the demitasses in my collection are supremely delicate. This one is wildly absurdly whimsical. A leaf saucer? A flower cup? All painted in vivid brushed on hues. (I used to have another cup, sans saucer, from the same set, painted in orangish pink, if I recall, though it met its demise some time back.2) It looks like something fairies would drink nectar from. But I'm not a big nectar drinker, so coffee it is. Over the top and awesome. 

1 This series has taken on a life of its own.

I've had the cups for years, but we mostly used them on social occasions. The game was to let guests each choose their cup from the shelf (that photo is from this post) while I was in the kitchen making coffee. They'd place their selections all together on a tray. I'd come in and pour the coffee, then try to figure out who to serve which demitasse to — who chose what cup. And I often guessed right. The Demitasse Selection Personality Test.

I didn't start regularly using the cups for my solo coffee consumption until last Christmas when Sarah gave me that wonderful little espresso machine. (The demitasses are just the right size for those dense delicious little doses.) And then, of course, I found myself snapping photos. And then I started posting them. And now here we are, a bunch of posts later, having worked through a significant subset of the collection. (Though to be clear, a smallish subset. I've got a lot of these things.)

I won't deny, it's made my coffee drinking more complicated. (And this post is particularly complicated. This is actually yesterday's morning coffee, but I got lost in words — the footnotes always get me — and so it's a day late.As the series grows, I have to work harder not to repeat myself, and with a brain like a steel sieve, this usually means scanning back through previous posts to double-check. (The series is now mainly a weekend affair. Weekday mornings don't allow for such dawdling.) But I don't mind. They're wondrous little things, and I'm happy to share.

2 These aren't museum pieces. We use them. Which means we lose them; occasional casualties are inevitable. C'est la vie. Nothing is forever.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Pixie Sarah

At Memphis BBQ joint. New 'do + hilarious straw-drankin' = adorable.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Slang of the Day:1 Devilish Domestic Dispute

This is our time of summer storms: often in the afternoon, often torrential, sudden, brief, usually highly localized.2 The storms are often so localized that one can be in the midst of a downpour and see the sun shining a few blocks away — or vice versa. And not infrequently, as the rain pours straight down and the light slopes in diagonally, it rains as the sun shines. I was at a shindig recently, sitting outside with a bunch of folks. The sun was shining. And it started drizzling. And I mentioned, "The devil's beating his wife." This brought puzzled responses from a number of fellow shindiggers. They'd never heard the expression. But back in ol' Virginie (rendered in Appalachian geezer-speak), that's what we said: 
Raining while sunny = Devil's beating his wife. 
I have no knowledge of the phrase's origin (and for the moment, I choose not to Google it). But the pattern of puzzled vs. non-puzzled responses led me to wonder if the saying was regional. Data points:
  • We say it in Virginia.
  • Memphibians at the party also knew the phrase.
  • The Detroiters seemed to be in the "never heard it" camp. (For complex rock 'n' roll reunion reasons, there was a high ratio of Detroiters present.)
  • I've heard the phrase here in New Orleans (though it's possible I was usually the one saying it).
A Southern thing? We lack sufficient data for meaningful extrapolation. So I ask you: Do you know the phrase? And where y'at? Slimbo-minions, bring me data!

1 Hey, look! The last "Slang of the Day" was just a couple of days ago. So our micro-series is almost daily. Bi-daily? (That prefix confuses me. Every two days? Then is there another prefix for twice a day?)

2 We get torrential rains other times of year, but the pattern is usually different: organized bands of storms moving west to east, bringing long steady downpours which last for hours. (I'm a bit of a weather nerd, fond of checking the radar.) But these summer storms just bloom up out of nowhere — little yellow, orange, and red blobs — and then shrink away again just as quickly.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Happy Birthday, Sh-Boo-Boo!

Well Ms. Lulu turned eleven today. 11. 11! Her first non-trivial palindromic prime age!1 And off to middle school this Fall. My, my. Happy birthday, big girl!

1 I had no idea that "palindromic prime" was an actual thing besides a silly notion that had just popped into my head until I Googled it and learned that of course there's a Wikipedia page about it. I was trying to figure out what would be the next "palprime" (101 — just ninety more years, darlin') and if there were a lot of them (yes, an infinite number). I added the "non-trivial" designation because really, single-digit palindromic numbers? Who gives a damn? (Oops! Fell into a nerd-hole. I'll stop now.)


I will make an assertion. I will assert that the following three hairstyles are intended to make a statement:
  1. Mohawks
  2. Mullets
  3. Dreadlocks
  4. One might say that they have a "wow"-factor, at least in their more extreme forms. So when I saw this guy rocking not one but all three of these styles simultaneously, I was... well... just... wow-wow-wow. 

Mohawk + Mullet + Dreadlocks = Triple-Wow

I can't claim any actual fondness for the aesthetics of the look, but I suppose one might at least admire his ingenuity in combining these disparate styles into one singular 'do-trifecta.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Slang of the Day:1 "L7"

One of the songs I sometimes holler for the Lusher Dad's Band is "Wooly Bully", the lyrics of which verge on nonsensical. I had assumed one such nonsense line was "Let's not be L-seven, come and learn to dance." What the hell is "L-seven"? A whole bunch of nothing, I assumed. But one of my bandmates (a fellow of a slightly earlier generation) explained to me that this was not so:
"L7" = "square"2
He then held up his hands to demonstrate, the one hand making an L and the other making a 7 (well sort of — the top horizontal is perhaps disproportionately long, but close enough). And what's the shape in the middle? A square! Dig it, man, dig it.

1 "Slang of the Day" implies that this will be a daily feature. I should make clear that this most certainly won't be the case. We have ventured into slang territory in the past though at wildly sporadic intervals. But "Slang of the Wildly Sporadic Interval" just doesn't roll off the tongue. ("Roll of the tongue" — there's a funny saying.)

2 In the beatnik/hippie sense of "uncool", so the lyric is actually perfectly meaningful: Let's not be lame. Let's get out on the dance floor. (I'll note that this is the second time in a few days that we've used the term "square" in this way.)

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Bertha Roosts on My Head

Photo by Dad

I've always claimed a special rapport with dogs and children. We just generally get along well. Apparently this rapport extends to chickens. One afternoon during my recent trip to Virginia, I was sitting out on the porch, reading a book, minding my own business, when Bertha, the fine chicken pictured here, ambled up, hopped onto my lap, and then perched on my head. She's an friendly creature but apparently has never done any such thing in the past. A funny moment, to be sure (though I confess, I was glad she didn't decide to poop while up there). Now if I can just figure out how to turn this into some sort of circus act...

Monday, July 16, 2012

From the Doodle-Ma-Tron: Country Pompadour

So we've been talking about old rockers. Now it looks like we're on to country and western.Check out this fellow in his fancy shirt and big old head or hair. A few random musings:
  1. As discussed, rock 'n' roll was once youngster music. This has changed over the decades (Keith Richards is still at it, and judging by appearances, I'm pretty sure he's like a thousand-years-old or something), but the genre is self-conflicted: it's supposed to be forever young but it just ain't so anymore. Country music never had that problem: it's always been a multi-generational affair, old has always been fine. (Country is a genre that deliberately celebrates the old ways. Rock 'n' roll is always about breaking with the past. I suppose that's a big part of it.) Hmm.
  2. I'm pegging this guy as a seventies Nashville cat. It's funny how during that time, as the hippies grew their hair down their backs, even the "squares" coiffes got longer— the country musicians, the anchormen, the TV detectives, the accountants, all the regular guys — nothing so dramatic as those freaky kids, but still, bigger, pouffier, maybe some sideburns thrown in. Like this guy. Hmm.
  3. For a genre that's inherently conservative, it's funny how a lot of those big-time Nashville getups were so flamboyantly over the top. (This guy's little gold-trimmed and -tassled number is tame by comparison.) Hmm.
Random ruminations complete. Hmm.

1 Whose joke was that? "I like both kinds of music: country and western."

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Photo by Lulu: Feet

I'm pretty sure every photographer, young or old, has at some point taken a picture of their feet. June has. I have many a time. And here's Lulu's version. (Another from her Garden of Delights series. She's standing on my newly laid pavers.) I suppose it's inevitable. Point the camera down and there your feet are. Click. I seem to remember a scene from Lost in Translation when the young female lead disparages her own youthful forays into photography, citing pictures of her feet as an example of lameness, but I beg to differ. Feet are cool and weird. We forget this because they're always around, but good photos make us notice what we otherwise ignore. Look at those feet. Luminous. Awesome.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

My Morning Coffee: English Pastoral

As much as I perversely love the endless tropical summers of our dirty old city, I found myself drawn this morning to the escapism of this little English pastoral: quaint cottages and cool quiet countryside. I read once that Japanese fans were sometimes printed with wintry scenes, the idea being that the image itself could cool the mind just as the fan's fluttering breeze cooled the body. I suppose this little demitasse brings some of the same. (Though shortly I after I brewed this cup, one of our unpredictable summer storms sprang up, the skies opened with rain, and and the air turned gently cool. Not that it will stay that way for long.) This scene goes all the way around: fences and sheep and honest little farm folk and, on the far side, a church nestled amidst the trees. And the center of the saucer contains another little scene, again the church, seen from the distance beyond a field of cows. I'm quite certain rural English life was never truly so quaint, but since when were pastorals ever about reality? (I grew up on a farm. It had its merits, but it was a hard and dirty business.) Regardless, a sweet little cup: those blues and whites — and again, the flowers.

Friday, July 13, 2012

From the Doodle-Ma-Tron: Old Rocker

Time was, rock 'n' roll was a kids sport, but the years have passed, and the rockers have aged. Sure, there's always new crops of rockin' youngsters, but it's a now a multi-generational thing. And lots of the kids have drifted off to other genres: hip-hoppish business with drum machines and digi-crafted layers, or wistful indie music with flugelhorns and violas. Not that I'm complaining. I myself mostly occupy the realm of raunchy guitars and balls-out hollering, but I'm plenty interested in the ongoing sprouting of new musical shenanigans. (Though my personal interests veer towards the hip-hoppish. I confess, a lot of the wistful flugelhorn stuff makes me kind of sleepy.)

Oops, we're getting off track: I'm supposed to be talking about this guy. Definitely an old rocker. I was going to complete the doodle by scrawling some back-in-the day band name across his shirt. But then I couldn't figure out which band, which particular sub-genre of rock he'd sprung from. Metal? Seventies stadium rock? Dunno. Anybody got a notion?

Photo by June: Shadow with Jazz Hands

June continues her photographic exploration of shadows. She asked me to stand exactly like this and hold my hands just so. And snapped the results. I'm not sure where the idea bubbled up from, but I respect her specificity of vision — and find it kind of hilarious — and pretty cool.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

From the Doodle-Ma-Tron: Scary Guy in Red Shirt

Yeah, this guy totally weirds me out. I'm not sure where he came from. I have no idea what his deal is (and I'm not sure I want to know). Whatever. It came from the doodle-ma-tron so here it is. I don't judge. I merely inflict the results on the world. Proceed as you see fit.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Photo by Lulu: Satsuma Tree

Garden of Delights: Continuing the tour of our reinvigorated back yard (through the eyes/photos of Louise), behold our new little Satsuma tree. Someday, with appropriate love, it will turn into nice big Satsuma tree. And once a year, it will bear gobs and gobs of the fruit, our wonderful regional variety of orange (well actually Satsumas apparently came from Japan, but they've settled nicely here in South Louisiana). Easy to peel, delicious. Mmm. And during this annual fruiting, we will have more Satsumas than we know what to do with. We will eat as many as we can. And we will force bags full of them upon everyone we know. I say this because everyone I know with an adult Satsuma tree goes through this annual ritual. Well, there are worse problems to have. (I like Lulu's composition, the crisp green leaves against the geometric lines of the bamboo fence.)

Monday, July 09, 2012

From the Doodle-Ma-Tron: Monsieur Frenchy

Yeah, this is a silly one, all loosey-goosey style; and pretty much every French cliché possible, all rolled into one beret-wearing dude. It is what it is. (Process, man! Process!)

Sunday, July 08, 2012

My Morning Coffee: Vivid Flowers

Another fine little creation, English, lovely. (I know flowers are supposed to be girly — as are delicate little china cups — but you may have figured out by now that I don't give a damn. Flowers are awesome. Vivid little renderings of flowers are awesome. Delicate little cups with vivid little renderings of flowers are extra awesome. Woot!)

Saturday, July 07, 2012

Photo by June: Spanish Moss

June's been taking lost of photos in Audubon Park. And Audubon Park has lots of Spanish moss. In places, it forms a dense canopy, a sort of ceiling of fuzzy stalactites, filtering the fierce sun into gentle dapples. This little snap by Ms. June captures the effect rather nicely.

Friday, July 06, 2012

My Morning Coffee: Brownish Red-ish Flowers, Cracked

Sure it's been through some hard times. It's cracked. It's got a chip out in its rim. But is that any less reason to love it? It's bottom says: "Germany, Maria" I assume that means something to something to people who know about such things. All I now is I like it. It's a charming little thing, and the fact that's it's held together with glue and determination makes me love it that much more. Go on, little cup. Your'e all good with me.

Photo by Lulu: "Horse Tails"

Garden of Delights: I like these horsetail reeds. I like anything of that bamboo-ish/reed-ish/vertically spikey flavors of plants. And I like plants that look they might grow on an  alien planet. To my mind, these horsetails meet both criteria. I've got a nice little row of them arrayed around the banana trees on the north side of the yard. Hopefully they'll hold up. I'm soaking them real good: I know they're a water-friendly breed, partial to the edges of ponds and waterways. (And after a good rain, our backyard turns into a pond anyway, so that should work out.)

Thursday, July 05, 2012

From the Doodle-Ma-Tron: Mr. Polka Dots

The big question here is:
  1. Is he an actual dude from back in the day, an authentic 70s-ish guy (and I've merely time-travelled back in my imagination to render him)?
  2. Or is he a present day hipster, cultivating a throwback look?1
Without contextual clues, it's remarkably hard to tell. Hmm... (And why does he look so distressed? Is his polyester chaffing?)

1 I'm amused by the range of cross-decade vintage stylings that get mashed together by youngsters into a single "retro" look. Pretty much anything from the 50s through the 90s is fair game. Mix 'n' match. No matter. And I like how the retro-version of each decade is a selectively stylized hyper-caricature of whatever was actually going on back then: neo-50s greaser kids with full sleeve tattoos that were almost non-existent back then. And everyone under thirty seems to think the 80s was populated exclusively by people dressed head-to-toe in neon.

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Happy 4th, Y'all!

Our semi-annual flag cake: baking and overall orchestration by Sarah, berry application by the kiddos (under my obsessive supervision), icing piping by yours truly. Mmm, America-licious!

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

From the Doodle-Ma-Tron: Question Mark

He's smiling. He sees something he likes. He's thinking something. I wonder what it is. 

Stylistic aside: I realize, of late, I've got the drawings of Tom Bachtell on the brain, the fellow who does those wonderful little portraits for the "Talk of the Town" section of the New Yorker. (That link points to a great little video of him at work.) He has an amazing capacity for capturing a person's likeness in a few dashed strokes — he's a masterful caricaturist in best possible sense of that word — which I wouldn't even attempt to emulate. (I'll stick to doodling the fictional folks that bubble up in my brain.) But I do love the looseness of his lines and his rough brushy textures. Good stuff.

Monday, July 02, 2012

From the Doodle-Ma-Tron: Fancy Lady

Yeah, I don't know. She's got some vivid hair, that's for sure. What's that emotion? Troubled? Wistful? Blasé? Je ne sais pas.

Sunday, July 01, 2012

My Morning Coffee: Gold Filigreed Mismatch

Again from the original inherited nucleus, another "set" composed of a cup that lost its saucer and a saucer that lost its cup. The cup is from Limoges, Frances, the saucer from Dresden. Though having started life apart, they found each other. Perhaps it was destined. Look how well they fit: the fancy florid filigree, the scalloped edges. (Check out the subtle twist of the sides of the cup.) Isn't there some old R&B song that applies to this situation.